April 23rd is establishing itself as quite a date in the book-lovers calendar. Not only is it both the birth and death day of William Shakespeare, but in the last couple of years it has also been the chosen date for World Book Night. WBN is a fantastic opportunity to spread a love of books and reading around the world: those who sign up to be ‘givers’ receive 24 copies of their chosen book to distribute as they wish, with an emphasis on aiming for people who don’t regularly read, have never read for pleasure, or hardly ever set foot in a bookshop. It’s all about passing on that love for books that some of us take for granted: I was amazed when a friend once told me they didn’t read, and when I asked why they simply said that they hadn’t really thought about it. I lent them a few of my favourites and, a few weeks later, was rewarded with a request for more recommendations! That’s the spirit WBN is encouraging, but on an international scale: opening up to everyone the world of books, and all the worlds, ideas and possibilities there are to discover through them.
In celebration of WBN, Waterstones in Ipswich decided to hold a guided walk through the streets of the town, distributing books to likely-looking candidates as we went. For that extra eye-catching element we also decided to dress up in Shakespearian costumes!
Photo: two faeries and Bottom the ass from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ready to spread the magic of reading to an unsuspecting public. I was Bottom, armed with 24 copies of Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens, and yes, I did take off the mask in pubs – didn’t want to scare potential readers off!
Despite the persistent rain, we had a brilliant time, and fantastic responses from a whole spectrum of people: pedestrians, pub-goers, bus drivers, businessmen, and travellers on their way to the airport. I really hope people enjoy Good Omens, and the other titles we distributed, and it’ll be interesting to see if any future owners register the books on Bookcrossing so we can see where they ended up.
If you want to find out more, visit http://www.worldbooknight.org/ where you can vote for next years books, read all about the scheme and become a giver for 2013. I’ll definitely be signing up next year!